By Kye Makyeli
Known by many as the daughter of the late reggae music sensation and maestro Lucky Dube, Nkulee Dube continues in her father’s footsteps as an artist and continues to fly the reggae flag high, fusing it with sounds of ethno-soul and jazz.
The South African songstress also emerged top nominee in six categories in the recently concluded 31st International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), becoming the first non-Caribbean entertainer to have scooped that many nominations.
No stranger to the performing arts, Nkulee has been a part of her late father’s band, ‘One People’ as a backing vocalist performing at major festivals in countries such as Australia, Holland, Papua New Guinea, French Guyana, Suriname and many more.
Which personalities inspire(d) you to do what you do?
I’m inspired by different personalities of people who play a great role in my life and my career. My biggest inspiration is my father. He taught me a lot about myself and what I’m capable of as an artiste.
Your father… He was a great man and a legend. What are the challenges and perks of being your father’s daughter?
I go through a lot of challenges because I always have to represent my father’s brand and grow my own at the same time, but it keeps me on my toes and focused all the time. There are lots of perks that comes with being my father’s daughter but the most important to me is the FAMILY he left us with in any country we visit. We see him in his fans’ eyes and that’s the best gift he could ever give.
There has been a lot of debate concerning the evolution of “conscious” reggae to dancehall music or what is known as “slackness” along with many campaigns to “save the genre”. What is your perception of reggae music in Africa, and the world as a whole?
Music is evolving with time and the original “conscious” reggae sound has changed over the years and I think the younger generation has to learn to incorporate it. We should never stray far from it because it represents a time when music was used as a powerful weapon to liberate nations. The young people have different struggles today but we should use the same creed and be soldiers of our generation. Reggae is still the number one sound in the world and it will stay on top for years to come because of its history.
Are you working on any projects at the moment which the fans should look forward to?
Yes! I’m working on my second album which will be titled ‘The Journey.’ I’m hoping to release it in September after our tour in the United States. The fans should expect a more mature side of me and maybe a few feature surprises but all in all, it will be a great journey.
So many African women are making the transition to embrace the nappy fro and thick hair, but are frightened out of it by the ‘high maintenance’ fallacy that comes along with it. You have locks. How do you maintain them and would you recommend African women to pull the natural hair card?
My dreadlocks are easy to maintain and they don’t give me any strain when I get ready in the mornings. I think natural is a good card to play because it can’t be compared with anything else. Women love variety and they should embrace all that brings out the beauty they see inside themselves. Natural or not.
When you are not performing for a crowd, penning lyrics or in the studio, what do you do for fun?
I love going to the gym and taking yoga classes, I also spend most of my time with my little brothers for a bonding session. Family and friends take up all my time when I’m not working.
How do you envision the African woman?
African women are the strongest women I’ve seen. They’ve built nations with their bare hands and still have time to raise families. My vision for African women is for them to be empowered with higher education and tools to teach the younger generation of women to take their place in society, to stand up and be counted, to remind them that they are next in line to lead their countries to an even better future.
Favourite colours: Royal Blue, Brown, Earth Green, Purple and Black.
Guilty pleasures: Chocolates, shoes and handbags!
Dresses or Jeans?: I prefer dresses… I only wear pants on stage because of the dancing.
On your playlist right now? – Turbulence (Jamaica) and P Square (Nigeria) are my two favourites at the moment.
A powerful performer, Nkulee Dube is one to watch and could easily fill the shoes of the greatest African performers like Brenda Fassie and Lebo Mathosa.
She is currently on tour in the United States and will be in Europe next month. For more information and tour dates check out the Nkulee Dube Facebook page.